Our Pastors

Since the church was founded in 1861 we've been blessed with 43 Pastors!

1861-1877

A.B. Greene, L. Humphrey, C.W. Palmer, C.C. Miller

1877-1889

W.H. Parker, J.W. Fish, Wm. Hartley, S. Randall, E.M. Bliss, J.W. Tope

1890-1910

F. Snell, H.E. Hoare, O.E. Moffett, J.C. Williams, J.J. Johnson, Herbert C. Nash, C.C. Colby, Wm Barbour

1910-1923

Thomas Prince, W.B. Stubbert, C.H. Scheick, Paul McKinney, S.M. Duyers

1923-1972

W.J. Donnelly, Kennieth Craig, Charles Fox, James Spindler, A.J. Hulbert, Dennis Kolbert

1972-1987

Clifford Rowe, Bruce Tanner, Dennich Schoolfield, Douglas Stimers, Howard T. Olson

1987-2007

John D. vanGorkom, Doughlas Stimmers, Donald Horrell, John Paluke, Steve Bruehel, Ed Erickson

2007- current

Horsrt Bruenjes

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH AUGUSTA- SHORT HISTORY

The following was excerpted and somewhat re-written from the history written by Winifred Kirkham for the 100th anniversary of the church in 1961 with additional information provided by Annie Mayo as part of the 125th Anniversary in 1986.


From the history of the church written by Mrs. Sarah J. Russell in 1911, we find that her father, John Roberts, who lived about eight miles in the country, went to Augusta in the fall of 1861 to see how many he could find who were interested in forming a church. After finding, as he thought, a sufficient number, he then went to Eau Claire to look for a minister to help in the organization.

He contacted Reverend A. B. Green, a pioneer missionary who was working in northern Wisconsin at the time, and who had assisted in organizing the First Baptist Church of Eau Claire six months earlier in the year. Reverend Green walked from Eau Claire to Augusta and aided in the organization of the church October 5, 1861. There were nine charter members: John Roberts and his wife Mary Ann; Marcellus Rickard and his wife Sarah Ann; Andrew Thompson; Joseph Strader; Jane Austin; Mrs. Sally Russell and Henrietta Bullis.

Following the sermon by Reverend Green, articles of faith were adopted, and the little band of believers joined hands and repeated the solemn covenant of the church. Officers were then elected. They adjourned to meet in the Thompson Valley school house the next day, at which time three more were added to the membership-Maria, wife to Joseph Strader; their daughter, Rosalin, and Rose Babcock.

On November 3rd the first covenant meeting was held. After four months, during which time Reverend Green spent two days each fortnight with them, he left to enter the Union Army as a Chaplain. From the time of his departure until April 1865 no records seem to have been kept, although the few members must have kept together in the faith. In 1865, at a covenant meeting, they voted to call Reverend L. Humphrey to become pastor at an annual salary of $150. He accepted and the following year an additional $150 annually was added to his salary from resources provided by the Baptist Home Missionary Society.

The first Sunday School was organized in June 1865 with Charles Rickard as superintendent. Weekly prayer meetings were established that same summer and have continued until the present time. (1961). During the year 1866, a number of people moved from New York State and joined by letter, thus providing encouragement to the faithful group.

Because of a depression and hard times, as well as the suffering associated with the loss of loved ones in the Civil War, and after much prayer, the church seemed ready for the great revival that began in 1867. Theodore Stone was the first one to be received into the church by believer's baptism. Nearly every Sunday during the following winter the ordinance of baptism was observed. At one time, twenty were baptized through immersion in a hole cut in the ice on Augusta pond, and at one Sunday evening service, sixty members were received into the church. The year 1867 records the largest number of new members. During the first twenty-five years, 244 members had been received by baptism, 85 by letter, and 54 by experience. Membership stood at 170 in 1886.
Although the membership had increased, the people were poor in worldly goods and the task of building a church meant sacrifice on the part of all. Reverend Green returned in 1868 because of Reverend Humphrey's ill health and set about the process of building. The people contributed labor and money to the extent of their ability. Reverend Green worked day and night. He took Deacon John Robert's team of horses and drove to Menomonie for a load of lime to plaster the church and ended up walking back all the way because the load of lime was too heavy for the team of horses.

A dedication service was held on February 14, 1869 when the building was finished. The previous Saturday was observed by the members as a day of fasting and prayer. In 1883 the baptistery was built in the church and was used for the first time in November of that year with four persons. The three chairs behind the pulpit were presented in 1892; the large one by U. M. Stone, a smaller chair by the Baptist Young People and the other small chair by the Ladies Society. In 1914 the basement was built and during the construction the congregation held services at the Universalist Church. October 1914 a Union service with the Methodist, Universalist, German Methodist and Baptist gathered at Warner's Hall. In 1921 extensive improvements were made and the auditorium completely rebuilt. The pulpit platform was lowered, a new baptistery put in, also new floors and woodwork.

October 1923 Reverend W. J. Donnelly began his pastorate. He instituted the Harvest Home service on November 18, 1923 and it has been held every year since.  It was in 1930 during Reverend Donnelly's pastorate that the first Daily Vacation Bible School was held, and which has continued since that time. The painting of the grape vine and appropriate Scripture in the arch behind the pulpit was done by E. K. Lund in 1931.
In 1952 there was a work crew from Barbados employed at the canning factory and Reverend Donnelly encouraged their attendance at the church, which many did. The lighted cross above the pulpit was installed in 1953 as a memorial gift by Rachel Brunilson. Reverend Donnelly passed away in August 1953 and remains the longest serving pastor of the church, almost thirty years.

The church joined the Baptist General Conference in April 1962 as the conference more closely met the goals of the congregation. Also in 1965 the steeple was removed and natural gas piped into the church for heating. In 1966 a new motto was made by Joyce Kaufman from cutout letters and placed behind the pulpit: "To Know Christ and To Make Him Known." In December 1967 Pastor Kolbrek and Harold Mayo attended the first Trustee meeting of the Great Lakes Baptist Conference at Ogema, Wisconsin.

Here ends the official history of the church awaiting an update in time for the 150th anniversary in 2011. A list of all the pastors and interim pastors of First Baptist through the present (2009) follows.